Tuesday, March 27, 2001

The Romans rule: Gladiator beats out Crouching Tiger, Traffic at Oscars

Obviously I'm disappointed, in that I wanted Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to win, but the lesson here is that the Best Picture award is above all a popularity contest. It's the only award that everyone in the Academy can vote for, and what we've seen in recent years is that studios spend millions of dollars campaigning. Dreamworks spent a great deal of cash getting videos and DVDs of Gladiator out to Academy members, including little gifts and other perqs to help them remember their movie when the ballots get filled out. No one is yet saying that studios are buying Best Picture awards, if only because everybody's doing it, so theoretically it evens out. Still, the best campaign wins - two years ago, Miramax campaigned tirelessly for Shakespeare In Love, and they beat Saving Private Ryan (a Dreamworks film). Since then, Dreamworks has been on a mission: never lose a Best Picture race again. American Beauty was a Dreamworks film, which beat The Insider, a Disney production. Gladiator beat Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Sony Classics) and Traffic (USA Films). This is not a coincidence, kids. Once Russell Crowe won for Best Actor, I knew Gladiator was a sure thing (nothing like a kidnap threat to up your Q rating before the Oscars). Just one last observation: is it just me, or is Ridley Scott, director of Gladiator, the grumpiest bastard in Hollywood? The guy didn't even crack a smile once, not when Crowe won, not when his movie won. Hey Ridley, take the stick outta your ass, okay? So you didn't win Best Director. You didn't deserve it, and you know it, so lighten up, willya?


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